Diego Mapa talks Pedicab and the new Tarsius EP
by rick olivares
It’s a few hours from a Tuesday night gig for Pedicab at 70’s Bistro in support of returning hip hop act, Masta Plann’s bar tour. Pedicab singer and guitarist Diego Mapa took some time out to sit down and talk about Pedicab and the upcoming extended play album from his electronic outfit, Tarsius.
“Right now, I am trying to get Pedicab’s new record, “Remuda Triangle”, into as many shops as possible,” said Mapa not soon after he plopped down into a chair at Coffee Bean outside Gateway in Cubao. “I think it’s a good statement for us as a band that after we went indie, we released not only a new album but on vinyl too.”
For Mapa, since his Monsterbot days in the late 1990s, it was always about creative fulfillment and doing something different. “I went through phases where I was into different kinds of music – the Beatles, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Fugazi, acid jazz, electronic, and others,” he shared between sips of brewed coffee. “What I am, the music I make, is the sum of all of that. So with all the bands and creative outlets I am engaged in – there is a conscious effort to be something different. I like a lot of different types of music and there are no real boundaries or limits to what you can do so all my endeavors are – maybe you can say, part of a bucket list – but more creative fulfillment. It’s not art for art’s sake, but for the sheer love of music. It’s a medium without borders and that is what makes it great.”
“With ‘Remuda Triangle, it was doing an album about aliens and wearing helmets,” succinctly put Mapa with a laugh. “It would be nice to say that it is an ode to the late David Bowie, but it’s more ‘Blade Runner’ to me and discovering the works of (Swiss author) Erich Von Daniken who postulated about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture. And of course, my wife, Gema, who aside from being an artist and designer herself, is also into ancient aliens, science fiction, and that stuff. She subconsciously influenced the ideas about ‘Remuda Triangle’ as well.”
And speaking of different, for Mapa, there is his solo effort, Eggboy; the electronic duo with Jay Gapasin called, Tarsius; working with crowd-funding web site, ArtisteConnect; writing jingles for clients; and increasing the catalogue of his digital record label, Body Clock Records. “And there’s family life too,” he made sure to put in with punctuating the statement with a “whew”. “There’s a lot to do but family is just as important as anything I am doing.”
“Basically, I think I have covered the kinds of music that I want to make,” he returned to his life and profession.
What’s next on the horizon – reggae? Dub?
Mapa laughed some more. “I love reggae and dub music. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not in my blood to perform it. I think I know what I am capable of.”
The thirty-something musician who also played with outfits Cambio, the Diegos, and Dayuhan, however concedes that he’s been scouring the sonic landscapes and listening also to some Brazilian music. “Exploring deeper stuff than Sergio Mendes. Trying out other genres such as soul and funk,” he added.
Is Mapa just about to do bossa nova?
“I wouldn’t mind doing it 20 years from now. Who knows?”
However, right now, musically for Mapa, it’s doing a lot of shows with Pedicab while getting Tarsius’ follow up to their 2012 debut, “Primate” (released in 2012 right behind Red I’s “Jahdgement Day” that was the first of the Filipino vinyl put out in the digital era), ready to hit the vinyl racks either late 2017 or early 2018. “Five years is a lot of time in between but you will see and hear the difference. Now, the new Tarsius album will be out on a Southeast Asian label. I am not at liberty to divulge the name of the label or even the album title yet but soon. All in due time.”
That the new Tarsius offering will be on vinyl puts Mapa on three-for-three with his last releases. “It’s a statement too. I was hoping that if we got to do it, other artists will look at vinyl to be a viable option for them. With Pedicab, we focused so much on vinyl that we forgot that there are those who still want in CD or digital format. So we’re looking at that kind of release as well. But this doesn’t affect my approach for Tarsius. We’re obsessed with vinyl that sometimes; I feel ‘na mukha na akong plaka.’”
Added Mapa, “I’d like to believe that Pedicab, as a mainstream band, we put out ‘Remuda Triangle’ that was a statement. After our contract ended with a major label, we soldiered on: ‘They don’t have a label but they managed to put out a new record on vinyl too.’ It was also a friendly note to our peers that they too can do this. Of course, they asked first, ‘did you sell?’ Now, it’s ‘where can we have our record pressed?’ With record sales picking up, it is worth it.”
With a few hours before Mapa was to head out to 70’s Bistro, he wondered if he’d drop by the thrift shops of Cubao X to dig some vinyl.
“Hey, music is my life,” he summed up.